Thursday, July 16, 2009

Villain Archetype: The Tyrant

We're kicking off the villains this week with a bang. One of the most identifiable villains, the Tyrant, can usually be found crushing whoever has the misfortune to get in his way beneath his boot heel.

The Tyrant is power hungry, and usually without conscience. Don't interfere with his journey to power or you will be sorry. He is a ruthless bully, above society's grasp of human compassion.

In the 1991 film rendition of Robin Hood, actor Alan Rickman did a fantastic job of portraying this archetype. With King Richard off on the Crusades, Nottingham showed no mercy while attempting to bring down Locksley and steal the crown of England for himself. He stopped at nothing to get what he wanted, and that included Locksley's love, Maid Marian. In the end, his obsession with power cost him his life.

Another notable Tyrant, Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series possesses an unquenchable thirst for power. Voldemort and his supporters, the Death Eaters, set out to overthrow the Ministry of Magic and take over completely, putting Voldemort in the seat of power. Without morals, without conscience, Voldemort will destroy anyone who stands against him. Anyone. Even school children.

Another shining example of tyranny is The Emperor (Sith Lord Darth Sidious) from the Star Wars series. This guy doesn't even blink at blowing up an entire PLANET as he strives for domination. But in the end, love conquered even the darkest forces in the universe when Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) turned away from the dark side and killed Sidious to save his son Luke. Go Jedi!

But why stop at the human race when examining the Tyrant archetype? (Just for fun! ) In the 2001 feature Cats and Dogs, a maniacal (yet totally adorable) Persian cat named Mr. Tinkles has aspirations of world domination. He lobbies his evil cat army for the extermination of all dogs in this farcical look at the long-standing feud between canines and felines. How will he manage that? With a serum that would make the entire populace allergic to dogs. Eeek!

What Tyrant character springs to mind as having made your blood boil? Can't wait to hear from you.

Tracy Preston


Regencyresearcher said...

Villians are often thought more interesting than heroes. Villians usually are more complex than heroes. Evil has more dramatic facets than goodness. I think the enduring fascination of the Bad Boy hero for many is that he has elements of both good and bad. he could be a villian with a shove in that direction.
That said, I find that the scariest vilians are those whose villiany is not apparent. The villian who looks like a saint or, at most, a bad boy, can be the source of more horror than the villian who proclaims his purpose as world domination.

Teresa Reasor said...

Very good blog!!
I'm thinking- thinking- thinking- What about Adolph Hitler, Napoleon Bonapart, Sadaam Husain and all the other tyrants that dominate history. They have an incideous way of brainwashing people into their way of thinking then turning violent and ruling through fear rather than loyalty.
Just my two cents,

Tracy Preston - Romance Writer said...

I totally thought of Napoleon, especially since I've been doing a lot of research lately on the Napoleonic Wars. But I tried not to use any real people -- even though there is a surprising number of real life tyrants in history.

I agree. Villains are extremely interesting. And when it comes to the bad boy, I am such a sucker for one! And it probably has everything to do with him riding the fence between good and evil. He can be dangerous when provoked, and that is sexy to women (or at least it is to me).

Thanks for commenting!


Isabel Roman said...

I have to agree with RegencyResearcher. I LOVED Alan Rickman in Robin Hood for the simple fact that he's soo much better than Kevin Costner. (In anything, let's face it.) But we see a lot more of him throughout the movie. Same with Harry Potter. The kid that torments Harry through the books (can't remember his name) is so much more interesting in the books, one of the reasons I stopped reading them.

It's also a reason I enjoy the bad boy heros. Complexity!

Excellent post, Tracy, thanks!

Nightingale said...

Loved Mr. Tinkles. He struck fear in my heart.

Mary Ricksen said...

Can anyone ever forget Jack Nicholson's line, "Here's Johnny!).
Though provoking post!

Anonymous said...

Mr Tinkles was the best thing in "Cats & Dogs" - in my opinion an unusally dark character for what was essentially a fluffy (no pun intended) family flick.


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